Research Overview

MFRI’s research team generates new knowledge about military and veteran families, and the results are published in numerous academic journals. We also partner with others to conduct research that illuminates practical ways to highlight the impacts of military service and the resilience of military and veteran families.

Family Journeys: From Deployment to Reintegration

The Family Journeys study is designed to understand how families negotiate and manage changing family roles before, during and after deployment. First, the study looks at patterns of daily communications, roles and responsibilities. Second, the study examines families’ dynamics of risk and resilience.  Finally, it follows the transitions and trajectories of roles and relationships over time.

Children of Multiple Deployments

In this study for the Department of Defense, MFRI led a team that assessed the well-being of young children in military families affected by repeated deployments. Possible consequences encompass increased anxiety, emotional distress, peer problems, conduct issues and hyperactivity. We compared the rates of these concerns with civilian children. Finally, we uncovered new information about the ways that deployment presents a significant risk for children.

MFRI’s Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award

MFRI created the Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award to recognize excellence in research for militay and veteran families. A panel of distinguished reviewers examine all the research on military families published during the year to select the recipient and honorees. The award honors the journal article that combines exceptional rigor with important insight about military and veteran families.
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Family Diversity

Realizing that contemporary military families transcend traditional stereotypes, the Navy asked MFRI to help them learn about the diversity of families currently serving. Using data culled from focus groups, we examined the diversity of service members and their families, as well as risk and resilience. We particularly focused Navy and Marine Corps families.  During the second part of the study, we examine the experiences of service members and their families with respect to a service member’s wound, illness or injury.  MFRI interviewed military service members, existing service area coordinators and service providers to discover common and particular needs. We also evaluated how well existing service programs, both civilian and military, met those needs.

Sesame Street

MFRI evaluated materials created by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, which created an educational kit to help young children cope with a family member’s deployment. The kit, Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes, includes a DVD featuring popular Sesame Street characters along with printed materials and online resources. Results included decreased negative behaviors in children as well as positive outcomes for them, especially with regard to coping and communication.


ZERO TO THREE, a non-profit organization that provides training to nurture healthy early development, created Duty to Care (DTC). This training program meets the needs of very young children affected by deployment. DTC educates childcare, family support, healthcare and mental health professionals regarding the challenges facing military families. MFRI evaluated the curriculum’s effectiveness in meeting these needs.